Response: Teachers, enough with these social media ‘lessons’

While doing my daily reading, I read Teaching the Teacher’s new post of the day: “Teachers, enough with these social media ‘lessons.'”

Every few months a photo like this surfaces In my social media stream feeds telling me to like, retweet a message to ‘teach’ children a lesson about social media.

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In world where millions of pieces of new content are being uploaded every second, creators are resorting to desperate and more shocking things to break through the clutter in search of that elusive like, share or retweet.

And it’s not just kids.

Companies, celebrities, politicians, sports teams and, dare I say it, teachers find themselves wanting to harness the power of this vast global network.

Could there be a better way to teach responsible use of the Internet than publicly shaming students in as wider a forum as possible?

I understand the motivation behind the lesson, to protect kids from posting something stupid that could ruin their lives if it goes viral.

However I’m not convinced this approach actually leaves students with an enduring understanding of responsible and ethical online behaviour.

Fear of ridicule may be great for short-term compliance but in the long term it does little promote sound and ethical decision making over the long term. It actually gives credence to the number one tool in bully’s arsenal, a public audience.

And that audience doesn’t need to be big. The reality is that most students aren’t going to experience Star Wars kid level of viral cyberbullying. However if a student has more than one friend on snapchat, they have the the power to hurt and humiliate someone else through a share.

The focus purely on students as creators of content ignores that most of the time the kids are consumers and distributors of content which is where the problem really lies.

Taking part in a meme without really thinking about the context.

Sharing and viewing images designed to humiliate without thinking about the consent or feelings of the subject.

Retweeting articles without reading them.

I was dismayed at the number of teachers who were happy to capture and share their students doing the Harlem Shake. Yet the kids dancing who had no idea that Harlem was a place let alone what the people living there thought of the global phenomenon.

Or how quickly the cause of motor neurone disease was forgotten in the race to upload, share and nominate others in the ice bucket challenge.

The Internet is participatory.

Whether it’s a 13 year old request for a like for a like or a multinational company getting you to share, they are asking for that moment of connection. They believe their idea is important enough for you to stand by it to give it more credence.

The audience for the share could be 1 or 1 billion. It is the power of that audience kids need to appreciate and use appropriately.

What we share is more important than what we create.

The best way I believe I can response to this article is by breaking it down and then posting a conclusion.

Companies, celebrities, politicians, sports teams and, dare I say it, teachers find themselves wanting to harness the power of this vast global network.

But this is the entire point of social media: Accessing information from others, and sharing yours with the entire userbase (and by extension the world). I agree with the goal of something such as twitter as being able to harness the power of a large collective group. But I also believe that in order for something to be powerful, one must have the mindset of “what can I contribute” instead of “what can I gain.” When one has this mindset and gives enough effort and time, the benefits flow naturally.

I understand the motivation behind the lesson, to protect kids from posting something stupid that could ruin their lives if it goes viral.

However I’m not convinced this approach actually leaves students with an enduring understanding of responsible and ethical online behaviour.

Fear of ridicule may be great for short-term compliance but in the long term it does little promote sound and ethical decision making over the long term. It actually gives credence to the number one tool in bully’s arsenal, a public audience.

Agreed. I was actually a victim of me doing something “Stupid” (others words, not mine. I stand by my actions). I was in the middle of a personal/social experiment on Reddit. Reddit is a large…. forum? Where tens of millions of people post articles, pictures, memes, advice, and so forth. It’s the largest of its kind, and has as much impact as something such as 4chan. The website has one major flaw (asides from its search bar). The flaw is that it becomes a hivemind. One educated person will post an opinion, and the people whom read it will follow it without looking at the evidence themselves or critically. This reflects the real world (with social media and news… trust your sources people!). For example, the site hates comcast, capitalism, and supports Edward Snowden. Back onto the point.

My social experiment was to show what people will believe for terms of entertainment. I started to make up stories and summarize them into memes to show what people will believe. I was planning on showing these results to the entire site once I collected enough examples, but was found out in my fourth or so exposition. The entire hivemind of reddit then decided to do a ‘witch-hunt’ on me. People literally spent hours going through my post history to ‘downvote’ everything (it’s the opposite of a like on facebook). Some even found my real world identity and contacted my friends and family with threats. Which is the point I’m trying to make with these paragraphs: I took extreme precautions to make sure nothing linked to my real world identity, and they found it anyways. One must be extremely careful of what they post, and where.

The focus purely on students as creators of content ignores that most of the time the kids are consumers and distributors of content which is where the problem really lies.

Taking part in a meme without really thinking about the context.

Sharing and viewing images designed to humiliate without thinking about the consent or feelings of the subject.

Retweeting articles without reading them.

Exactly the point I was making above. People will follow something blindly; on and off internet. How many people support John A. Macdonald, or Canada as a whole? I personally believe Canada to be one of the most racist places on Earth and John A to have an extreme dark side to him.

The audience for the share could be 1 or 1 billion. It is the power of that audience kids need to appreciate and use appropriately.

Precisely. Respect the power of the most used tool in the world; the internet and its users. This is a lesson students need to learn. It’s unlikely that a post they made when they were 13 on facebook holding a beer will harm them, but they need to understand that stuff like that shouldn’t be uploaded to begin with (and subsequently, their overall actions could take a little modifying. Mine have

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